if it grew on trees…

My men in their monkey suits… Cute, right?!
Just a little birthday costume preview. Can’t believe Ames is one next week!

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling pretty down in the dumps lately. I’ve been feeling a lot of things… tired, worn down, sickly, overwhelmed, yikes! I’m a bit discouraged about where our family is versus where I’d like to take it.

I am content in the idea of Chris playing music full-time, but I pray for breakthrough daily. I want him to be fully appreciated (and compensated) for his gifts & talents. I hope that I’ll get to spend more time at home with my kids before they get old enough to remember. Until I am able to work part-time or not at all, though, I will continue to be the provider. And that’s okay.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to make a visual wish-list of things I’d buy if money really did grow on trees.

This is about…10 years in the making. I already have a tattoo by him inside my lower lip that says “HONOR,” but I will get tattooed again for REAL, by Chris Stuart, before I die. A big ol’ pigeon piece on my calf. And when I’m 90 years old and dragging behind a walker, I will show it off proudly – beneath my support hose. The inspiration comes from a dove obsession Christopher & I have… Here is a little idea from our wedding invitations.

I’ve always wanted a nice handbag. Maybe someday, I’ll get lucky like Mandy and win a Balenciaga?! One day, I might just reward myself regardless. And when I do, I’ll most likely buy a Cole Haan.

This is a Taylor 314, one of the nicest guitars EVER. It’s been on Christopher’s wish-list for years. In fact, he jokingly tried to figure out a way to add it to our wedding registry. He also tells people it’s what our soon-to-be toddler wants for his first birthday. Bless his heart.

Also on my list are two things for the house…
A privacy fence! Bamboo floors!
And our bedroom would look like a mixture of all of this glory…
Lots of colors, textures, & layers – can I get an amen?

We will get there someday. I squeal at the thought of how far we’ve come in the last two years! And who knows…maybe by the time we “make it,” we won’t even want this stuff anymore. 
I’m just trying to take each day at a time. I’m keeping my head up and doing what it takes to feed my family. I’m proud to be an artist’s wife. I’m proud to be a nurse. I love what I do, both at home and at work. I’m thankful that a full-time job for me only means three days a week. And my husband is home to take care of the house and the kids while I’m gone. I mean, talk about an ideal set-up!
I just can’t wait to see where God takes us in the seasons to come. I know one thing…I plan on waltzing into one of those seasons with a Cole Haan swinging from my arm!

the mini-honeymoon…

When Chris & I got married, we didn’t have a lot of money. Not much has changed! Anyway, we decided not to take a week off and fly somewhere (I was in school and he was the only one working). So we decided to pack as much extravagance as we could into two days away after our wedding. We spent two different nights in two different hotels in two different cities. I was in shock; he was content.
We took no pictures. I don’t know why; we just never pulled our camera out. I took a few pictures on a cell phone that has since been replaced by an iPhone. They are most likely lost forever. So instead of being discouraged, I’m heading in the opposite direction from a Wordless Wednesday post; I’m writing down everything I remember about our two-day honeymoon, and I’ll sprinkle a few stock landmark photographs I find online.
We got married at our church, Warehouse242, which is close to downtown Charlotte. Surrounded by friends and family (literally – we got married in the round), we exchanged vows that we’d written and kept secret from each other. I presented Christopher with an extra wedding band, one that signified my commitment to Lucas & Avery. My brother played a song he wrote for us. Our fun & laid-back reception took place at an old bistro in uptown Charlotte. There were candles, wildflowers, brick walls, wood floors, leather club chairs – it was glorious.

Thanks to a hookup, we got a sweet deal on a night at the Westin, one of the nicest hotels in the area. Funny story: the guy who gave us the discount happened to be a fashion designer, a guy I hired to do all of the dresses for the bridal party, mine included. A few weeks before the big day, he took off to God-knows-where, disconnected his phone and took off with everything. We had to scramble to find new dresses.
Anyway, we enjoyed a beautiful night in room 2210, which is now our new home’s street address number – how ironic?! We checked in at the front desk, and the lady smiled and congratulated us. I paid for the room in cash and waited with our suitcase while Chris parked the car. It cost $20 to park in the hotel’s garage. I remember willing myself not to care about the money.
I can’t remember if Chris carried me into the room. I usually have such a sharp memory. Our room overlooked the street with a skyline view of Panthers Stadium. I thought it fitting, with Chris’ passion for Carolina football. I remember standing by the window while Chris went to the bathroom. I stared at my silhouette amongst all of the city lights. We were on one of the top floors. The cars looked like ants. I felt so pretty, wearing my veil and dress. But I felt so numb. The “big day” was coming to an end. I looked out and wondered if anyone driving by knew that I had just gotten married and was going to bed with my new husband, twenty-two floors above them.
In my wedding dress and a rare moment of vulnerability, I took Chris’ shoes and socks off and rubbed his feet. I tried to tell him all that he meant to me without letting my voice shake too much. I saved some of the soap and lotion. It smelled like white tea and ginger and aloe. I still have some left.
We slept in a king-sized bed and ordered breakfast in bed the next morning. It was expensive, so we only got one order and shared it. Chris let me eat most of it. I think we tried to read the newspaper. I put on a pair of jeans and Vans slip-ons for our trip to Asheville, feeling so under-dressed. I saved the parking ticket, but I’m not sure where it is now. Hopefully, I’ll find it in our box of wedding mementos. We went by my parents’ house to get a few things for that night. My dad made a joke about me not making eye contact, and then he called me a hussy (lovingly, of course). They hugged us and we were off. For some reason, I was embarrassed and just wanted to be alone with Chris.
We checked into the Grove Park Inn a few hours later. It’s a world-famous resort in Asheville, NC. Once again, I felt out-of-place. Chris stayed close by as we checked in. There were some issues with our reservations and how we’d pre-paid. I remember being worried that something was wrong. I’d let Chris take over this part and didn’t know the details.
Once we got it all squared away, we made our way to our room. Henry Kissinger’s name was on the wooden door. Apparently, he’d stayed there several times. I just called to find out the number – room 460. We spent that evening in the Spa. We got a couples’ massage. My therapist’s name was Matthew, and Chris had an older European lady named Jacinthe. I remember being nervous that Chris wouldn’t like that I had a male therapist. He said he’d requested it, because he thought I’d enjoy the comfort of a man’s hands.
We dunked in cold pools as deep as the ocean, lined with rocks. We floated in warm pools that changed colors and played music underwater. There was a women’s side, a man’s side, and then a community area. We sipped on cucumber-infused water and wore fancy bathrobes. I almost cried when someone addressed me as “Mrs. Kincaid.” I was still numb.
We dined at the hotel’s Sunset Terrace that evening, thanks to a wedding gift from a sweet friend. We ate crabcakes, duck (I think), and steak. There were fancy potatoes and fancy salads. Our table was by a window that overlooked one of the heated outdoor pools that played music underwater.
The next morning, we ordered another single breakfast in bed. I think we took a bath in the old ceramic tub. The ceilings were slanted, as we were on the top floor of the Main Inn. We checked out of the hotel and headed into downtown Asheville to walk around and eat lunch before heading back to Charlotte. Chris bought a black-and-gray scarf from a hippie boutique on the Battery, a cobblestone road blocked off to cars. I think we may have gone to that red double-decker bus that’s now a coffeeshop.
We went to Tupelo Honey for lunch. Although I’d been there before, something didn’t feel right about it that time. Nothing on the menu looked appealing, either. Chris left a few bucks on the table to cover our sweet teas, and we walked next door to Mayfel’s. Apparently, that was God-ordained, because we are obsessed with it now. Chris had the meatloaf and went to heaven. I enjoyed shrimp and grits. And then we headed home.

One of our first nights back, I crawled into bed and burst into tears. I had no idea why, but that was a dark season for me. I was so happy to finally be married and getting started on life with my husband, but a part of me was mourning the loss of the old me – Rachael Brown, daughter and sister and housemate and a whole bunch of other things I’d left to be “become one” with someone.
Chris held me for a few minutes that night, and then he jumped up. I heard him rummaging around in the suitcase we’d yet to unpack. He crawled back into bed and began reading aloud to me – his vows, from our wedding. He whispered and cried into my hair, and I fell in love all over again. I was home.

34 WEEKS…SEPTEMBER 2009

Little man, we are mere weeks away from meeting you.

I cannot believe it.
A lot has happened in the last few weeks…
I started my new job on the Child/Adolescent Inpatient Unit @ Behavioral Health.
It feels so right, and I am so thankful for the opportunity.
I’m trying to get all of my orientation hours in before you arrive – it’s crunch time!
We went to the beach a few weekends ago with our best friends in the world.
9927_137525432182_752917182_2600317_6894513_n 9927_137525492182_752917182_2600327_2193010_n
We stayed in a house on the sound @ Ocean Isle, and it was glorious.
This past Saturday, your daddy sent me on an adventure.
He left me these notes, complete with instructions & addresses via email on my iPhone.
Inside each envelope, there was a picture (the boys were in on this) and Christopher’s sweet words related to each location…
notes
I got a chocolate & banana smoothie here:
smoothie
I got my nails done here (Manicure – OPI, Hopelessly In Love; Pedicure – OPI, At Your Quebec and Call):
nails
I got my first-ever facial here:
facial
When I returned home, teary-eyed from all of the love and pampering he’d put me through, he was waiting for me with one last envelope… there was a box of beautiful stationary (he’d affirmed my gift with words and asked me to keep writing him notes) and a card that read, “Will you have dinner with me?” When we arrived @ RuSan’s, my family was there waiting to have dinner with us! Needless to say, my beloved husband orchestrated one mama’s afternoon to remember. How amazing is your papa, Ames?!
My sweet friends from nursing school threw you a tea party @ Amelie’s this past Sunday. It was so beautiful, and of course they showered you with gifts! There were little onesies made out of scrapbook paper, on which people wrote notes. They’re going up on your bedroom walls very soon! I had a blast.
7728_134428549940_749434940_2391674_4730741_n
I ordered my birth kit, per Damaris’ instruction. I have to have all of my supplies ready for her visit next week… this means you’re actually going to be born. EEEEKK!!
I love you, little man. Thanks for being so sweet these last several months…